One of the things that happen when you start a new blog, if you don't have a hit counter you wonder just who, if anyone, is reading you. You visit other blogs, pluck up your courage and leave comments, but comments aren't always returned. In an effort to see what other people are doing and saying, you press the next blog button on Blogger dashboard. Wow, it's all there, life in every conceivable permutation and then some. Mostly, the content you find is not up your alley, but sometimes you strike gold, like the time I found St Kilda Today , a photographic journal of my very own suburb, run by the estimable Michael Blamey.
Sometimes people find you, like Angela of Seriously Brilliant Stuff . We had started our blogs pretty much together, and shortly after, she hit the next blog button and 'food for thought' popped up on her browser. Liking what she had read, Angela left a comment, which prompted me to check her out (in a nice way) and liking what I read, left a comment as well. From there we became blogging buddies, supporting each other in the early months. Like its been a whole six months since I started! Things sure move quickly on the net.
Anyway, Angela is always finding interesting things and lately she found a meme that requires revealing six weird things about yourself, or rather six things you didn't need to know about me.
I'm not as brave as her, so I will tweak it a little and give it a food focus. So here goes.
- Angela revealed she is always up for it. Well so am I. There is never a time when I don't feel like cooking. Maybe I run out of time to do it, so some takeaway comes our way, but not very often. I've got a knife bag and will cart my knives over to friends' houses on the slightest pretext to indulge my passion. When I'm not slicing or sauteing, I will be reading cookbooks, magazines, surfing food blogs or watching food programs. Yeah, I've got it bad.
- Okay, so when I don't have time to cook, there is a favourite takeaway - fried chicken. Not just any fried chicken, it has to be the Colonels. Nothing can make me happier than sitting down with his fried chicken and a big tub of potato and gravy. I don't care much for their chips or coleslaw, just let me dunk a tender chicken piece into that gravy and I'm as happy as a pig in...well you know what. Of course being the guy I am, I'm working on the recipe. So far the closest texture wise is a mix of breadcrumbs and flour. As to the eleven secret herbs and spices, spice wise I'm pretty sure of three - salt, pepper and monosodium glutamate, and I suspect tumeric. The herbs must be ground up to a powder because nothing is identifiable, but I'm guessing would include oregano, marjoram and thyme. Of course the one thing the Colonel doesn't use that I do, is a good free range chicken.
- When I was reading Jeanne's Cook Sister one time, she revealed that she never makes mayonnaise, ever. Well I'm revealing that I've never bought mayo, ever. I know that everybody else uses store bought, for you can always taste a certain sweetness with it. But ever since I learned how to make it, there has been no other way. I'm a bit of a gun at it, always pushing to get the oil to emulsify at a rate that invites the dreaded split, mostly it comes together, occassionaly in goes another yolk and start again. A couple of things I've found is that a good spoonful of quality Dijon mustard makes the emulsion more stable and less likely to split and Spanish sherry vinegar gives the nicest tang, unless you are making aioli, where lemon juice is the best choice.
- I love my knives. German engineered Dick. They are like my own children to me. Not a day goes past when one or another is held in my hands. Purchased some thirty years ago, they are all as sharp as the day I bought them, though one is not quite as long, a consequence of being pressed into oyster opening service and the tip busting off, then it was off to the knife hospital and a new tip was ground on as well as a new oyster knife being purchased. Wooden handled, they require a bit of linseed oil every six months to keep the wood in good shape. Don't believe everything you hear about knife sharpening machines, I've had one for twenty years and there is no discernible effect on my knives, other than being razor sharp. Not that I use the machine very often, only when my steel fails to bring them up to standard. This probably sounds stupid, but I feel like a butcher when I slap my knives across the steel in that rhythmic motion a good butcher uses. The only time I've been scared of my knives is when I taught my kids how to use them, after you demonstrate hand on hand what to do, then you have to step back and let them go at it. I read one chef saying he lets his kids use slightly blunt knives, I couldn't disagree more. When the knife is not so sharp you have to exert more pressure to get it to cut, this extra force makes the knife more likely to slip and to do some damage than a properly sharpened knife that cuts with ease. Just teach your kids how to keep their fingers out of the way.
- I cannot bring myself to buy supermarket eggs produced by caged birds. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but I believe free range birds have a higher happiness quotient. Whatever, it's cruel to keep any animal caged up and unable to move around. I've blogged about this before, as have several other bloggers. Our kitchen only has happy eggs from happy chickens. We only eat happy chickens - maybe the chickens aren't happy to know that.
- I can't stand to watch somebody else barbecuing, especially when said person doesn't know much about cooking. It should be a crime to stab or pierce a sausage, hey, what did the poor sausage do to deserve that. Or how about people who turn the meat over and over and over et al, just relax will you, turn the meat once only. Some don't understand how heat works, just because the chicken pieces are nicely blackened doesn't mean they are properly cooked through. Long and slow when on the bone. Or the other side of the coin, there are some who believe that all meat should be cooked to death, just to be sure. I want to slap their heads onto the grill just so they know how it feels. Did you know pork is safe to eat at 59 c (138 f), which equates to medium rare? Okay, I understand we are too conditioned against eating pink pork, but leave it juicy please.
So there you have it, part of my dark side. As always, anyone who wants to have a go, off you go.